A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Silobreaker

Security Links - 2 Dec 07

Maia over at the people search site spock has kindly added the details of the 17 ACF workers who were killed in the Muttur massacre to the spock database. You can view the results on this page or you can search for "murdered aid worker" at the spock site.


The NGO Security blog has been running a series of "What would you do if....?" scenarios based on videos from YouTube and other online sources. They are well worth checking out. The video makes the exercise a little more visceral. You don't need to be a security officer to participate. In fact I would guess that non security officers would benefit the most.

Watch the videos and imagine what you would do. Imagine yourself actually being there. Do it with as much detail as your imagination will allow. How would you respond? How would you feel? You don’t need to worry about getting the “right” answer. You don’t even need to leave an answer for the exercise to be beneficial. Visualization is a powerful tool. It will help you cope mentally with future crises.

Once you’ve done these yourself try them with your peers or your family. You’ll be surprised how your responses can differ radically from those of others. In Scenario 5 it wouldn’t do you any good to know that backing up quickly is a good idea if your driver thinks the best option is to jump out of the vehicle and hide in the ditch.


Silobreaker has updated their site. It is now easier to make sense of what you are seeing. The graphs and link diagrams are especially useful.

Silobreaker - Online Analyical Tool

Online research can be a great tool but as anyone who has used Google can attest there is a lot of information out there and most search tools just dump out an endless list of links. Sorting through it, discarding the irrelevant, and putting the remainder into some usable form is a task left to the user. Any tool that allows the already busy Security Officer to spend less time searching for information and more time assessing and analysing it is of value. Silobreaker is one of these tools. In the words of Silobreaker, "Silobreaker looks at the data it finds like a person does. It recognises things - companies, people, topics, places - and puts them in context".

While I was testing the public Beta I quickly discovered its utility. A basic search for the term 'suicide bomber' brought up the type of content you might expect but with some preliminary organization. There was a top stories pane, a search result timeline frame, an entity list, a "Quotes" pane, a more traditional search results list and a network visualization diagram. The sidebar also has a list of entities related to your search; cities, people, companies etc.

Since I'm currently in Sri Lanka I "drilled down", as Silobreaker calls it, to Sri Lanka. The result were now much more relevant and lo and behold there were items of interest and relationship that hadn't captured my attention before.

As one would expect with a Beta there is still some work to be done. Even on my relatively fast connection the site seemed slow at times. One very useful feature that counters the sluggishness is the liberal use of hover overs allowing a quick preview of content before you commit to clicking on a link or entity.

Silobreaker is currently allowing free public access to its online Beta. I recommend you give it a try and see if it meets your needs.

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This work by Kevin Toomer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.
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